It’s October — time for one of Stowe’s most popular annual events, the Leaf Blower Classic.
The 2019 Leaf Blower Mountain Bike Festival is this Saturday, Oct. 12. Home base for the annual day of mountain biking is Ranch Camp at 311 Mountain Road. The festival runs from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The event is an all-day dip into mountain biking. The Stowe Trails Partnership, which is all things mountain bike in Stowe, describes the event as “Vermont’s best way to cap off an amazing riding season that was filled to the brim with the glorious weather and trail makeovers.”
“We refer to it as the best day of the year,” said Evan Chismark, former executive director of the Stowe Trails Partnership and now a co-owner of Ranch Camp.
“It’s a celebration of the season, one last hurrah before the leaves drop and we get into the winter season,” said Rachel Fussell, who succeeded Chismark as head of the Stowe Trails Partnership.
“It’s become a community celebration, and not just for Stowe but for the super-broad, growing mountain bike community,” Chismark said. People from all over New England, Canada and the world attend each year. “It’s become a melting pot,” he said.
The Classic’s highlights are the group rides for mountain bikers of all abilities and levels of experience. This year’s event includes at least 14 group rides “that tackle some of the Northeast’s best terrain with incredible views along the way,” the event’s publicity promises
The rides range in difficulty from “multi-mile, advanced, rocky and rooty” to “low-mileage, mellow and flowy.”
Also planned are clinics and rides for younger biker, led by local pros and guides and.
After the rides, everybody reconvenes at Ranch Camp, where there will be vendors, live music by Christine Malcolm, and lots of swapping stories around a fire.
Ranch Camp barbecue will be available after the rides, with vegetarian and gluten-free options, and trail snacks will be stashed along the routes.
Zero Gravity will be provide libations, and all riders get a bag of swag, Fussell said, to commemorate their ride and support of Stowe Trails Partnership.
The deadline to buy tickets online for the Leaf Blower Classic was Sunday, Oct. 6, but a limited number of tickets will also be available on the day of the event at Ranch Camp.
The Leaf Blower Classic “started as a way to get people together, enjoy the foliage and welcome in the next phase of the season,” Chismark said. Today, it’s far more than a niche event for local mountain bikers; it has become the largest fundraiser of the year for the Stowe Trails Partnership. All proceeds from the event support building and maintenance of Stowe’s trail networks.
“I hope people come out to support us and get a ride in before the snow falls,” Fussell said.
Ticket prices for the Leaf Blower Classic range from $35 to $90. Mountain biking is an all-weather sport, but if the weather turns too foul, the rain date for the Classic is Sunday, Oct. 13. Parking at Ranch Camp is limited, so parking is available at the Springer-Miller parking lot or in the overflow lot at the Mayo event fields.
For a list of the rides and other information: stowetrails.org.